Washington: US President George W. Bush’s foreign policies may be unpopular in the Middle East, but Arab leaders showered his top diplomat with jewellery worth far more than a quarter of a million dollars last year.
While Bush himself didn’t fare nearly as well, the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice raked in at least $316,000 in gem-encrusted baubles from the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia alone, making her one of top recipients among US officials of gifts from foreign heads of state and government and their aides in 2007.
In January, Jordan’s King Abdullah II gave Rice an emerald and diamond necklace, ring, bracelet and earrings estimated to be worth $147,000, according to the state department’s annual inventory of such items released on Monday just in time for Christmas.
The king and his wife, Queen Rania, also gave Rice a less expensive necklace and earrings along with a jewellery box valued at $4,630, the document shows. Not to be outdone, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia presented Rice with a ruby and diamond necklace with matching earrings, bracelet and ring worth $165,000 in July.
The inventory also includes a $170,000 flower petal motif necklace the Saudi monarch gave to Rice in 2005, which the department says was not previously disclosed.
From the same Arab leaders, Bush received just over $100,000 in gifts in 2007, the list shows. Other gifts include an $85,000 sapphire and diamond jewellery set and $10,000 piece of artwork depicting a desert scene of bedouins, camels and a tent made of gold given to First Lady Laura Bush by Saudi King Abdullah. Unfortunately for the Bushes, Rice and other recipients, they won’t be able to enjoy the gifts as they have been turned over to the General Services Administration and government archives in accordance with federal law, which bars officials from accepting personal presents in almost all circumstances.
(The World may very quickly forget all those gifts, except the shoe gift (value of $10 million) rewarded by the Iraqi journalist to W.Bush.!)